Fred Wilson makes some excellent points regarding the interchangeability of the terms product and platform.
Let me give my take on his three key points:
1. Products must focus on platform requirements – how will they integrate with platforms that are already out there (eg Facebook, Myspace, Youtube), will they be locked to a single platform or able to adapt to other platforms (untethered), will the data they generate exist within a platform black hole (eg posting a video on Facebook – not easy to move it off of Facebook), how well do they cater to the stage of development of target platforms (eg Facebook is currently about engagement but shifting towards deeper content, Myspace is about self expression).
2. Products are platforms – does your product have an API, can others build upon it in an adaptive, innovative manner, is the sum greater than the parts (Twitter + Twitteriffic + Twittervision).
3. Give more with your pladuct than you get – do your users get more than they give, do your users get more from you than they can get from a competitor.
The term “pladuct” in point 3 is not a typo — think of it as the mash up of “platform” and “product” — type PLADUCT in big, bold letters on your office/garage whiteboard/wall — as a constant reminder of the new web mantra.